Saturday, December 23, 2023

Can Anybody Tell Me What Christmas is All About? - December 24, 2023

 Can Anybody Tell Me What Christmas is All About?

Good morning and Merry Christmas!

Let’s pray.

I know that I have a bit of a reputation when it comes to Christmas, I’m not exactly the Grinch though I do think he made some good points. 

But I will admit to you, as it seems that I do every year, that I do struggle with Christmas.

I’m curious, I want to hear your favorite thing about Christmas… 

Every year it seems we experience the pressure of getting enough gifts or making enough gifts, and making sure that the gifts for the kids are roughly equal, making it to all the concerts, decorating the house, putting a fresh spin on the birth of Jesus for church, planning out the gatherings, and being in a million places at once. And I know that I am not the only one.

But I came across a wonderful thought this year that has really been helpful to me and quite freeing: It’s not supposed to be a burden.

Over the years I have struggled with finding the joy and peace that Christmas promises. In the past I have even put up pictures to remind myself that there’s supposed to be joy, don’t forget the joy!

The problem for me, and maybe for you I don’t know, is that the joy and peace I was looking for in Christmas aren’t found in Christmas, they’re found in Christ.

I still love the family gatherings, the presents around the tree, all the food, and the new pajamas, they may be fun and bring a measure of happiness but they do not offer lasting joy and certainly do not offer any sense of real peace. But in the midst of all of that Jesus still does.

1 John 1:1-3 says,

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

This passage from 1 John echoes the first chapter of the Gospel of John,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God… In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

It is this Word made flesh, Jesus our Messiah, that we celebrate at Christmas time.

And while the world may pause to remember the baby born in Bethlehem in order to have joy and peace we must be sure to do more than just remember, more than just celebrate, we have to believe in Him.

In order to find any lasting joy and any real peace we have to believe in the Word made flesh.

Romans 15:13 says, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Hope, Joy, and Peace are what three of our four Advent candles represent, all of which are not truly possible without faith in Jesus Christ. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

And I guess that’s the secret to finding real joy and peace at Christmastime, it’s not in the activity and the hustle and bustle, real joy and real peace are only found in believing in Jesus, the One born to die to set us free from our sin.

One of my favorite things about Christmas is “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” Charlie Brown was struggling with the real meaning of Christmas in midst of all the commercialism and finally cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is really all about?!” Then that great theologian Linus VanPelt answers him from Luke chapter two…

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The Good News of great joy for all the people was that a way to have peace with God had been given: 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, and the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace in believing in Him, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


We are going to gather again tonight at 6 to remember our Saviors birth, to read the story, sing the songs, and light the candles, to celebrate through our simple traditions, and worship our humble King born in Bethlehem. 

Let’s pray.